Nobody at Google is going to own up to this publicly, but Apple just handed Sergey, Larry, and the Android team the best marketing material they could ever hope for this fall.
With only hours to go before the iPhone 5 goes on sale in Asia, this would normally be an occasion for full-on celebration at Apple. Instead, it's been a tough 24 hours with iOS 6 users around the world posting evidence of myriad geographic mistakes and misplaced towns they've turned up in the mapping app for the iOS 6 operating system.
And in the zero-sum game that defines the smartphone war between Google and Apple, this was a moment to relish at the Googleplex. Of course, the official response from Google was low-key to the point of absolutely anodyne. To wit:
"We believe Google Maps are the most comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use maps in the world. Our goal is to make Google Maps available to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of device, browser, or operating system."But let's get real. This is part of a long and nasty rivalry -- remember Steve Jobs' charming threat to "go nuclear" after accusing Google of ripping off the iPhone's operating system. And if you're Google, today was all about karma given how Apple dumped Google's mapping app in the latest version of iOS.
Apple hasn't yet sued Google, though it's done everything but, firing off lawsuits against sundry manufacturers of Android devices including Samsung, HTC, and Motorola Mobility (now owned by Google.)
So with each company eager to shape consumer perceptions about their respective products, Apple's map mess affords Google a rare chance to lampoon a rival's supposed strength. When Ireland's Minister for Justice describes Apple's mapping app as potentially dangerous and then offers up the following money quote, even the dullest bulb in Google's marketing department knows that manna has just descended from the heavens.
"I am surprised to discover that Airfield, which is in the center of my constituency in Dundrum, has, in Apple's new operating system iOS 6 maps application, been designated with the image of an aircraft," Minister Alan Shatter was quoted saying in the Sociable. "Airfield, a 35-acre estate with working farm, formal gardens and café is of course a famous and immensely popular, important local amenity."
Obviously, there's a short half-life to exploit. If past is prologue, Apple, like it did during the now-forgottenwill fix the glitches and move on. Until then, party on, Garth.